Prime Minister's Q&A at Al Azhar University

David Cameron took part in a Q&A session at Al Azhar University in April 2012.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Rt Hon David Cameron


Thank you very much, Your Excellency, Mr Prime Minister. As you already addressed your confidence in Indonesia, sir, allow me to address two very simple questions. How important is Indonesia for the UK, sir? And how do you see the prospect of Indonesia-UK relations, particularly in the role of peacekeeping operations, or in the role of global politics? Thank you very much, sir.

Prime Minister

We have two very deeply shared interests. One is, both our countries need our economies to grow; we need to provide jobs for young people; we need to make sure that we get investment in infrastructure and in building up our countries. And there’s much more we could do, in terms of trade and investment. Britain is one of the top five investors into your country, but we only provide around 1 per cent of goods into Indonesia. So the expansion of trade, both ways, and investment, both ways, can benefit, and meet one of the biggest challenges that we face.

But the second challenge we face, which I discussed in this speech, is a challenge of security. Both our countries are threatened by extremist terrorism. You suffered in Bali; we suffered in London. The ideology behind those attacks was the same in both places, and we have a shared interest in tackling not just the terrorists - not just making sure our counter-terrorism effort works - but in tackling the ideology. And as I said in my speech, Indonesia can play an absolutely pivotal role in explaining to young Muslim men and women all over the world that there is an alternative to extremism or to authoritarianism, and that is a successful, productive democracy, where people have a job and a voice, as they do right here in Indonesia. You can lead by example - and that is in your interests, but in our interests too.


After you mentioned five or six signs about how Indonesia can lead the future, what do you think we students can do, in order to transform Indonesia to be a better nation and leader of the world in the future?

Prime Minister

Well, I have talked about what Indonesia can do by leading as an example, which you mentioned in your question. But I think what will now happen, more and more in our world, is that the countries of the old world, of the West - America, Britain, Germany, France, Russia - will increasingly be asking, when it comes to big issues that confront our world - whether it is the challenge of climate change, whether it is the threats of a nuclear-armed Iran, whether it is the issues taking place in Syria - increasingly in our world, people will be asking: what is the view of countries like Indonesia? What role will they be able to play in helping us to crack these problems and challenges?

Indonesia already plays a huge role in terms of peacekeeping, in some of the most difficult and dangerous parts of the world. But I hope, through the political dialogue and diplomacy that we can have, we can also work together on tackling those very difficult problems - problems that, in our interconnected world, threaten us all. Yesterday I was discussing with your President the challenge of Afghanistan. Now, when it comes to Afghanistan, we all know that at the end of  2014, the NATO troops will be leaving Afghanistan. But it’s in all our interests that we leave behind a stable, secure Afghanistan that is not a training ground for extremists and for terrorists. And there must be a role for countries like Indonesia that have a majority Muslim population, that have shown the way in terms of moderation and democracy, to help a desperately poor country like Afghanistan to make the right path forward into the future.

So I think we will see, increasingly, countries like Indonesia, but also like Brazil, like India, step up to a larger role on the world stage. And countries like mine, that have been permanent members of the UN Security Council since its inception - we should welcome this greater role of countries like yours; we should be working with countries like yours, and using your skills, knowledge, and experience to help us to tackle some of these deep problems in our world.

Published 12 April 2012